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30 July 2019, 11:36 | Updated: 1 August 2019, 09:28
Love Island star Sophie Gradon’s mum has spoken out about her daughter’s death and the link to the reality show.
Responding to ITV CEO Dame Carolyn McCall’s comments on the Today show saying it was “strange” to link Sophie’s suicide to her time on the show, Deborah has branded the reality series “principally evil”.
Deborah began her letter: “You make the claim ‘it’s strange to link former contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis’ suicides with the show Love Island'.
“This theory, belief or ideology, is totally inappropriate. The argument that you publicly disclosed, it comparably clever – but equally unpersuasive.”
Sophie’s mum continued: “How dare you try to trivialise and belittle the deaths of our beloved children. To try and exercise some right of removal from the show, is principally evil.”
After dubbing the show as “cunning and scheming”, Deborah also explained Sophie’s anxiety was “exacerbated to an unprecedented level” when she left the villa in 2016, claiming “she was offered a piteous ten minute Skype call with a counsellor.”
ITV have since changed their aftercare process, revealing their duty of care before season five of Love Island began.
Ending the letter with something Sophie had said in the past, she added: “In my beautiful darling daughter’s own words: ‘I sold my soul to ITV’.”
Deborah’s letter comes after ITV’s CEO Dame Carolyn addressed Mike – who took his own life in March 2018 – and Sophie’s deaths on the Today programme.
When questioned by business correspondent Dominic O’Connell if Love Island should’ve been cancelled after the stars’ deaths, McCall said while the deaths were “tragic”, mental health charities have repeatedly tried to “tell the media constantly not to simplify links” when someone has taken their own life.
“I’m afraid that’s what the media does,” she added, before saying it was a “strange topic” for the host to raise during the interview.
She said: “The two contestants, who were very popular contestants, Sophie and Mike, there was nearly a two-year gap [between appearing on Love Island and their deaths] for each of them and they did lots and lots of other things after Love Island.”
Sophie was found dead in June 2018 at her parents’ home and less than a month later her boyfriend Aaron Armstrong also took his own life.
The news shook the nation, with the question of whether Love Island should even still be aired constantly debated.
Capital has contacted ITV to provide a comment.